(This Op-Ed by yours truly appears in Florida Today newspaper, 8/22/18)
There is an old saying about a half loaf being better than none. Perhaps we should educate our politicians. That’s the same as saying some progress is better than no progress.
It seems no one in the current political spectrum is amenable to such a practice. If politicians who claim to be bipartisan would apply “bipartisanship” to legislative bottlenecks, we might see more progress coming from lawmakers across many issues. The key is compromise, that strange, outdated phenomenon. It was practiced by Republicans and Democrats during the Clinton years, which led to enormous legislative progress, not to mention a balanced budget.
The problem is particularly clear in regards to legalization or criminalization of abortion. There is no middle ground; pro-lifers and pro-choicers are virtually polarized with no room for compromise in either direction.
The impending hearings for nominee Brett Kavanaugh for filling a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court rests not on his voluminous array of legal qualifications or any other matters pertaining to government. Rather, it’s all about Roe v. Wade and how he might lean one direction or another as though this country has no other problems. That’s the focus. That’s very sad.
As an American citizen, my concern about any potential U.S. Supreme Court justice is far reaching, because other than a president, there are no other American dignitaries more powerful. Belaboring his viewpoint on abortions virtually jams the process from addressing many other vital issues.
According to latest Pew Research studies, the populous is quite divided over the matter of legal versus illegal abortions. Four in 10 Americans say that having an abortion is morally wrong, yet they don’t all claim abortions should be illegal. The gap is quite large when measuring party politics. Among liberal Democrats, 88 percent say abortion should be legal, compared to 27 percent of conservative Republicans. Nearly 60 percent of adults think abortions should be legal compared to 37 percent who avidly oppose.
So how can we satisfy both sides of this issue? Here’s a workable compromise. States could pass laws that enforce a timeline of fetal viability for women who want/need abortions. My suggestion is a four-month limit. Terminating pregnancies in the first four months should be the mother’s decision. But when a fetus is viable, fully developed and able to live on its own, abortions should be declared illegal, except to save the life of the mother. It is utterly inhumane and brutal to extract a 7 or 8 month-old child from the womb, fully developed and able to live on its own.
With such a law, the ultimate compromise, legal and humane, can be enacted with a half a loaf given to each side of the issue.
By all means, abortions, in general, should never be deemed illegal across the board. Criminalizing abortions at all stages would do for the abortion business what prohibition did for the liquor industry. The black market would flourish and many thousands of abortions would still be performed, many by unqualified abortionists. Those who advocate for illegality across the board should realize this as a fact.
Then there’s the residual effect of enforcing such laws. In the 1960s, Miami-Dade’s police employed a cadre of detectives assigned to the “Abortion Squad,” while many assistant state attorneys were tied up in the prosecutions. Those convicted took up jail space. I vividly remember some of those cases, particularly those being performed by veterinarians and unemployed nurses.
So, by keeping parameters under control for legal abortions, women can still get the relief they seek providing they carry out the act within the early part of pregnancy. Otherwise, as the fetus grows, it becomes a baby with a right to live. Thus, “pro-life” and “pro-choice” can blend and live happily ever after.
If such compromise laws were finally etched in stone, congressional probers and journalists could stick to an array of more salient issues when probing potential U.S. Supreme Court Justice nominees.